Czech 'cross champion takes positives from narrow World Cup loss to Albert
Zdenek Stybar may have suffered a narrow loss to Niels Albert in the third round of the cyclo-cross World Cup in Nommay, France on Sunday, but the Czech rider is pleased with the progression he has shown throughout the season and is confident he will be standing on the top of the podium soon.
"If you lose a World Cup 'cross round, there really no words for it," Stybar told Sportswereld after losing the two-up sprint to the line with the World Cup leader. "You wonder: what if on that last lap I had not attacked?
"Of course you never know, but it was not the result I wanted. I would have been better saving my energy for the sprint. But we learn from every race."
Although Albert has dominated the World Cup season, with victory in each of the three events contested, Stybar has finished consistently close to the cyclo-cross World Champion. He finished second at the opening round in Italy and third at round two in his native Czech Republic. Stybar is confident that Sunday's result is a sign that a maiden season victory is not far away.
"I must be patient. Every week I come closer to victory. At Koppenbergcross I was ten seconds away, five seconds in Hoogstraten and here in Nommay was only five inches," he said.
With a busy fortnight ahead, including two rounds of the Belgian Superprestige series and the fourth World Cup round in Koksijde, Belgium, Stybar said he looked forward to testing his mid-season form.
"I had also trained this week in Majorca, with a view...
Organisers of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in the Czech Republic announced last week the full details of the Tabor race course, presenting a circuit which is challenging for the racers but accessible for fans.
The course is similar to that used in previous World Cup races, but adds several new elements thanks to input from Czech stars Radomir Simunek and Zdenek Stybar.
The circuit measures 3,320m in length plus a 695m starting loop on a paved oval, passing by a new building erected for the race to house the UCI officials and provide showers for the racers.
Racers will begin with a mad dash on the paved oval before plunging headlong into the dirt where they will encounter the first challenge, a tight S-turn, one of two named after Simunek and Stybar, which goes up, over and back down a small berm.
The riders then exit the oval and head out to tackle a lung-busting route through the meadow, taking full advantage of the available topography.
The first climb includes the first dismount, with a series of steps preceding the crest of the hill, and an off-camber right-hand U-turn heading into a rather technical descent.
Long straightaways allow for riders to power through the second part of the meadow, interrupted only by a set of barriers before they will encounter the second S-turn, a fly-over, another climb, and then a sinuous descent back to the finish line.
"The course seems very interesting to me," said Stybar. "It is little bit different but it definitely meets all requirements for a World Championship. It will be very attractive for spectators. It is well arranged, and spectators will know what is going on on the course. For us racers, it will be a very difficult, but fair course."
Come January, if the course is frozen it will be a fast race well-suited to powerful riders like Stybar and women's World Champion Marianne Vos. However, given the multitude of off-camber turns, it could...
Euro Cross Camp director takes over from Myerson as sole American
Geoff Proctor was recently named to the UCI Cyclo-cross Commission. He replaces Adam Myerson as the only American on the five-person committee.
"I have been appointed through 2013," said Proctor to Cyclingnews. "This is huge for me as it's fruition of a lot of hard work over the years and a chance to continue to represent at the international governing body level of the sport."
Proctor travelled last week to his first commission meeting, which was held in conjunction with the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup in Nommay, France.
Proctor is the man behind the annual European Cyclo-Cross camp run for young American cyclo-crossers aspiring to gain experience and success in Europe. Each year, Proctor takes a group of primarily junior and Under 23 athletes to be based in Belgium for one to two weeks of training and racing over the Christmas and New Year's holidays.
Proctor joins Commission president Brian Cookson of Great Britain, Member Simon Burney of Great Britain, Member Sven Nys of Belgium and Coordinator Peter Van Den Abeele. Belgian champion Nys recently replaced Erwin Vervecken on the commission.
American Katie Compton continued her undefeated streak by winning her second UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup of the season in Nommay on Sunday.
The Planet Bike rider now leads both the World Cup and UCI rankings after two commanding wins in the series and her tenth win out of ten starts in UCI racing this season.
In Nommay, she was able to benefit from a front row starting position to put distance into World Champion Marianne Vos and last year's World Cup winner Hanka Kupfernagel, both of who skipped the Treviso round last month and had to line up in the last row.
Speaking from her base in Belgium, Compton gave Cyclingnews some insight into her tactics going into Sunday's race.
"Initially I thought the course would be too easy and fast because it wasn't very technical and it wasn't that muddy on the pre-ride the day before. However, once we left the course, it started raining and rained pretty much all evening and into the night so the course was heavier and muddier than expected," Compton said.
The sun came out for race day, and the surface formed into a soft but not wet mud, making conditions good for the American. "It was perfect 'cross conditions, a fairly heavy course that required a good amount of power but a sunny day and no need to pit.
"I made the decision before the start to race it 'American style' where you just drill it from the gun and there is no sitting up. The Euro girls like to ease up after two laps and look at each other before attacking again and that can give people too much recovery and change the outcome of the race."
After a fast start that forced Vos and Kupfernagel to chase, Compton said she went to the front to push the pace, but by the end of the first lap Vos managed to find her way up to the front group with her compatriot Daphny Van Den Brand.
The second lap held Compton's sole bobble, which briefly gave Vos an advantage as the World Champion went to the fore...
Torn shoulder tendon sees Belgian withdraw from competition
Sunweb-ProJob's Klaas Vantornout has withdrawn from the Niel Jaarmarktcross in Belgium on Wednesday, due a torn tendon in his right shoulder.
Despite Vantornout's earlier confirmation that he would compete in the event, Belgian website HLN.be today reported that after consultation with his team the 27-year-old had decided to pull of the race in order to protect his major season objectives.
Vantornout suffered the tear in a crash at the Hoogstraten round of the Superprestige series on November 1. He completed the race to finish fifth, but was later diagnosed with the injury.
He returned to competition on Sunday at the third round of the International Cycling Union's (UCI) Cyclo-cross World Cup in Nommay, France, where he finished twelfth. Vantornout had told Sporza on Monday that in spite of the risks, he would continue to compete.
"The pain ebbed away, but Sunday was worse in Nommay. Two weeks rest would cure everything, but I cannot afford to lose that amount of time," he said.
However, Vantornout will now take a break from competition to give the injury time to heal. A decision will be make on his return after further medical assessment on Saturday.
Vantornout finished third at the opening round of the World Cup season in Treviso, Italy, and currently sits fifth in the UCI World Cup Cyclo-cross rankings. World Cyclo-cross Champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus), who leads the World Cup series, has been confirmed as a starter in the Niel Jaarmarktcross.
Overall UCI World Cup Cyclo-cross standings after round three
World Cup sweeps distance competition in men's and women's rankings
World Champion Niels Albert and US champion Katie Compton pushed further ahead of the competition on the UCI's cyclo-cross rankings this week after enjoying clean sweeps of their respective World Cup series.
Albert has dominated the men's World Cup, taking commanding wins in Treviso and Plzen, but the Belgian had to work hard to get the better of Czech champion Zdenek Stybar in Sunday's round in Nommay, France.
The BKCP-Powerplus rider narrowly defeated Stybar in the sprint for the line, while Sven Nys battled back from a poor starting position to take his second World Cup podium of the year in third.
Albert now leads the rankings with 1,160 points over Stybar (945) and Nys (682), with Frenchman Francis Mourey claiming fourth with 588 points.
On the women's side, American Compton has earned the maximum number of UCI points, 760, in her 10 starts this season by going undefeated in every race so far.
The Planet Bike rider pulled further ahead in the rankings thanks to her second consecutive World Cup win after Treviso. Compton put on a commanding performance to best World Champion Marianne Vos in Nommay.
Dutch rider Daphny Van Den Brand continued strong and consistent performances to take fourth in Nommay behind teammate Sanne Van Passen, pushing herself into second place in the UCI rankings.
Van Den Brand trails Compton by 190 points with 570 total, while Van Passen is in third with 434. Vos lies in fourth after a late start to the season with 410.
Mongolia's cyclo-cross team to race at Niel Jaarmarktcross
The Mongolian national team will make their first foray into European cyclo-cross competition today at Belgium's Niel Jarmarktcross. The race will be the first stage in a three month lead up to January's cyclo-cross World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic for the four-strong team.
The Mongolian team will become just the second Asian nation, after Japan, to have riders compete in events on the European cyclo-cross calendar. Bold-Erdene Boldbaatar, 26, Naranbat Ariunbold, 29, Khangarid Naran, 21, and Myagmarsuren Baasankhuu, 18, arrived in Brussels last week for their three-month season.
Although Bold-Erdene Boldbaatar holds the Mongolian National titles for both the road race and individual time trial, the team has few allusions about what to expect when then line up against the likes of cyclo-cross World Champion Niels Albert on Wednesday.
"We're not fooling ourselves," said the team's Belgian manager Tom Lanhove. "We will be struggling at the rear and good results throughout the season will be top-20 spots. My hope for the riders is that they are able to shine and get noticed by bigger, richer, pro-teams. That’s my silent wish for each and everyone of them."
The team's mere presence in Europe is in itself a major accomplishment. Involved in the project since its inception, Lanhove said the team had initially been conceived as a road squad, but cyclo-cross had quickly emerged as a logical fit.
"Instead of competing against the best teams and riders of the world, our riders get to grow inside a niche sport that doesn’t rely on team tactics, but rather on individual prowess," he said. "We could either be a big fish in a small pond in cyclo-cross or a very small one in the big ocean of road racing. For Mongolia, with its few riders and resources, the choice was clear."
The four riders who have made the journey to Europe were selected by Belgian former professional Johan Museeuw during a visit to...
In other seasons Sven Nys has dominated the early part of the cyclo-cross season, but this time round it’s his fellow Belgian Niels Albert who is playing that role. Albert won his third World Cup out of three on Sunday in Nommay, with Nys taking third place, nine seconds back.
The 33-year-old is nevertheless confident that he’s on course for a good season. He told Cyclingnews on Tuesday that he expects his form to keep building and that he now wants to start beating riders such as world champion Albert and Sunday’s runner-up Zdenek Stybar.
“Everything is working well at the moment,” he said, sounding under no pressure at all. “Every weekend I have finished on the podium. There were a few races where I thought I could win and it didn’t happen, but my condition is really good. I won the big race at the Koppenberg [the GVA Trofee – Koppenbergcross on October 25] and that was a good experience, a good feeling.
“The next races – the World Cups and the race on Sunday in Gavere – are very important for me," he said. "I hope I can have the good feeling that I have now, and that I won’t only be just on the podium but will be winning races in the next month.”
The dominant cyclo-cross rider of recent years, Nys has also done some mountain biking and finished an excellent ninth at last year's Beijing Olympic Games in China. He rode the International Cycling Union (UCI) Mountain Bike World Championships in Australia this year and while that didn’t quite go to plan – he was 14th after suffering stomach problems during the race – he will continue to combine both disciplines.
For Nys, going from one type of racing to the other is part of the reason why he didn’t start the season in top condition.
“The mountain bike championships were late in the season and it was mid September before I was back and over my...